One day, I arrived home from the market to find my mother sitting in her chair, holding a spindle. Not a hand-spindle, but a spindle from a real spinning wheel. It took me a moment to recognize it, because I was not used to seeing it as a separate part.
“Mother,” I said. Ever since the affair with Willard, I had called her thusly. “Where did you get that?”
She cradled the spindle as if it were a child. “Widow Harla gave it to me. She found some spare parts while she was packing.” The widow’s brewing business had been such a success that she had converted her shop to a tavern.
“What are you going to do with it?” I asked.
She looked up at me. “I’m going to build a new spinning wheel,” she said, “and you are going to help me.”
A dozen questions whirled through my mind. I remembered the constable, the armed guards, the spell-wielding fairy. “But what about the ban?”
“It’s been two years and more. They’re hardly looking for spinning wheels these days.”
“How would we hide it?” A spinning wheel has a very particular sound. Its whirring would be audible from the street.
“We’ll spin in the cellar.”
“There’s not enough light down there.”
“I’m a good enough spinster that I don’t need much light,” she said. “And one day you will be, as well.”
“But we have not the skill to build our own spinning wheel.”
“I know every part of a spinning wheel. I can picture one if I close my eyes. We will build a spinning wheel, and then we’ll have the only one in the country.”
As she spoke, I felt an interest quickening within me. Our lives were so dull—the construction of an illegal spinning wheel would certainly enliven it.
She started by having me go buy a cartwheel, which she intended to craft into a flywheel. I went to our neighbor, the wheel- and wainwright down the street. His name was Master Caleb.
“A cartwheel, Miss Talia?” Master Caleb asked.
“Just one?” His brown eyes studied me.
“Yes, sir. Our…our cart lost a wheel.”
“I see. Could you bring the cart in, so I might match it?”
I had not thought of this. “It only needs to be about this big.” I held out my hands about two feet apart.
“But it must be matched to the other wheel, miss.”
Crestfallen, I looked at him. “Oh, I see.”
He regarded me for a moment. “However, I do have wheels for special carts. If I’m not mistaken, you must have one of those special carts.”
I, of course, had no cart at all, but he insisted on showing it to me. He led me to the back room and showed me a wheel.
It was a flywheel. From a spinning wheel. Terrified, I looked up at him.
“Do I understand you, miss?”
“But, sir, this is…this is…”
He smiled. “They only looked for intact spinning wheels, miss. They never came here to claim my unsold stock.”
“But if I should be seen?”
“I’ll wrap it up so it looks square.”
I watched him as he wrapped the wheel in burlap between two squares of wood, which I faithfully promised to return. He had nice, strong arms.
When I came home with a genuine flywheel, my mother was elated.
Mother made detailed drawings, and soon it became clear that we would need specially shaped wooden parts. We, of course, had no woodworking shop, and had not the means to make such parts.
But Master Caleb did. I decided to ask him to help us. To repay him, I resolved to become his mistress. Of course, convincing him took an effort.
What is your favorite fairy tale and why? Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win The Sevenfold Spell this evening. I’ll announce the winner in the comments section of the final post of the day.